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Developer: Demos Kill Sales

PCGamesN links to a D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2013 Keynote Speech by Puzzle Clubhouse creator Jesse Schell where the CEO of Schell Games makes the interesting, if counter-intuitive case that releasing a demo for a game hurts sales, and that the key to successfully marketing a game is to make players want to try it without giving them a chance to. He offers a chart of the "Hype Curve" of marketing a game, which contains data points with disturbing labels such as "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and "Trough of Disillusionment," and offers the following personal perspective on how this works, at least in the case of his game: "You mean we spent all this money making a demo and getting it out there, and it cut our sales in half?," he asks himself, before answering: "Yes, thatís exactly what happened to you." Thanks Joao.

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26. Re: Developer: Demos Kill Sales Feb 12, 2013, 16:43 Beamer
WaltC wrote on Feb 12, 2013, 16:36:
What he meant to say was:

"If you created a decent demo to highlight your decent game, then you probably sold 2x as many copies as you would have without the demo."

"Seriously, we sold 2x what we would have otherwise?"


The idea that people are going to put ~$50 into a game faster if it has no demo is absurd. What they'll do is bootleg it first to see if they like it and then maybe they'll buy the game later if they do. Only an idiot would think consumers are fooled by the absence of a demo. It's almost like saying, "If your game never gets reviewed you'll sell 2x the number of copies you would have sold with game reviews published." People who think like this are the reason some games don't do as well as they should have. And, demo or review or no, if a game stinks a developer has no right expecting mega sales from it under any conditions. The problem is that people like this think it is possible to "fool" consumers into buying lots and lots of crummy games. They are only fooling themselves.

Nothing you are saying is supported in fact.
For one, you have ZERO numbers showing that a decent demo of a decent game increases sales, let alone "2X." This guy has numbers that prove the opposite.

So argue his interpretation, don't throw out gibberish.

And the idea that people are going to bootleg a game to see if they like it is also absurd. The try-before-you-buy crowd isn't terribly large. Even the people here that do it mostly admit they buy it at a later date at a later price.
Plus he's discussing the 360, not the PC, making this a much more difficult thing to do.
Lastly, the games that routinely don't get demos, like Skyrim, Mass Effect, Modern Warfare, etc., all do extremely well and sell extremely fast without them. Their sales are very much day 1 and week 1 sales. A demo, which would come out around the time of release, wouldn't speed that up. At best it slows it down. Those consumers aren't swayed by demos at all, to them the prior game in the series or by the developer is the demo.

Also, yes, people sell more games when reviews aren't published. Had those Colonial Marines reviews come out last week I guarantee there would have been more preorders canceled. There's a reason Hollywood routinely does this.
Music for the discerning:
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